Florida courts have the best interests of children in mind when reviewing and approving parenting plans. But what if your circumstances change and you need to modify a parenting plan? Are you eligible to request changes to the plan?
The short answer is “Yes.” No parenting plan is set in stone, and Florida courts recognize that the parents’ circumstances may change over time and that children’s needs also change as they age. While it is possible to change a parenting plan, doing so can be a complex process.
That is why you need legal advice and guidance from an experienced attorney to help you with the modification process. The knowledgeable and results-driven attorneys at Veliz Katz Law assist individuals with family law modification issues in Orlando, Florida, and throughout Central Florida.
David W. Veliz, a family law attorney with over 25 years of legal experience, knows what it takes to modify a parenting plan and protect the best interests of the children. From their office in Orlando, Florida, the attorneys at Veliz Katz Law also serve clients in Maitland, Kissimmee, Winter Park, and neighboring areas.
Can Parenting Plans Be Modified?
According to a 2022 research article by Demographic Research, shared physical custody is increasing in the United States. However, a parenting plan established after a divorce or separation may no longer work as children get older or the parents’ circumstances change.
While it is possible to modify a parenting plan, you must make sure that you are eligible to request a modification. You need to understand child custody modification eligibility requirements in Florida before filing a motion to modify the existing plan.
When requesting changes to a parenting plan, the parent who files the motion must describe how the circumstances have substantially changed since the date the plan was entered or last modified. The petitioner must also explain how the proposed modifications would be good for the child (children). The court will review your arguments to determine if there are grounds to approve changes to your parenting plan.
Common Reasons to Change a Parenting Plan
There can be many different reasons to request changes to a parenting plan. Some of the most common reasons to modify a parenting plan include:
- Relocation. In the context of modifying a parenting plan, relocation occurs when one or both parents move to another city, state, or country. If the move complicates the existing child custody and visitation arrangements, the parents will likely request a modification of the parenting plan.
- The child is in danger. As mentioned earlier, Florida courts focus on the best interests of the children when establishing or modifying parenting plans. Thus, the endangerment of the child is arguably the most compelling reason to change a parenting plan. However, there must be convincing evidence to demonstrate that not changing the plan could endanger the child.
- Failure/refusal to follow the terms of the plan. If one of the parties fails or refuses to follow the terms written in the parenting plan, it could be grounds for requesting a modification. However, the petitioner must show evidence proving the violation has occurred and that the violation constitutes a substantial change of circumstances.
- Changes in the child’s needs. As children grow up, their needs are likely to change. Thus, what worked years ago when the parenting plan was initially established may no longer work because the child’s needs have changed.
Each case is unique, which is why it may be difficult to determine if your circumstances make you eligible to change a parenting plan. You can get a consultation from a skilled family law attorney to evaluate your situation and understand your options for making a modification.
The Process of Modifying a Parenting Plan
Now that you know what makes you eligible to change a parenting plan in Florida, let’s discuss the process of modifying the plan. If you wish to change a parenting plan, the first step is to submit a written petition to the court that entered the existing parenting plan. When filing the petition, you must also submit the following documentation:
- A proposed parenting plan that, in your opinion, would be in the child’s best interests; and,
- A written explanation of why you seek to change a parenting plan and why the proposed modification is justified.
However, when modifying a parenting plan, your own testimony and statements may not be sufficient to convince the court that a modification is necessary, especially if the other parent objects to the proposed changes. For this reason, you need to build a strong case that supports your arguments and proves that modifying a parenting plan would be in the best interests of the child. Statements from credible witnesses are some of the most valuable pieces of evidence in child custody modification cases.
Personalized Advocacy: Veliz Katz Law
With decades of combined legal experience, family law attorneys David W. Veliz and Norberto S. Katz help clients across Central Florida modify their parenting plans and other court orders. Veliz Katz Law provides unparalleled and personalized advocacy and helps clients confront the legal issues of seeking family law modifications. Contact Veliz Katz Law to schedule a case review and discuss your case.